How to buy bunk beds – to see your kids from toddler to teen

How To Buy Bunk Beds

As with all of your kids’ room ideas, the dimensions of the space are critical when choosing furniture – and that includes for bunk beds. Be sure to think height (with a minimum of 30 inches between the top of the mattress and the ceiling) as well as floor area (including that required for opening any drawers or other bedroom storage a bunk bed might incorporate) when measuring up the space. What the bed is made from, its type and its style are important so it’s suitable now, lasts, and fits into the decor as kids get older, while ensuring it is and will remain safe is crucial.


Choosing bunk beds for kids brings with it particular safety considerations. First of all, think about access. ‘There are a lot of beds that come with actual stairs leading up to the bed, so if the kid is under eight years old, that is always my recommendation,’ says interior designer Sarah Kruse, owner and principal designer of Storie. ‘This is not to say a younger kid won’t be able to go up and down a ladder, but if they are getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and are half asleep, steps might be a safer bet.’ Any bed you buy should have safety features, including guardrails along with a headboard and footboard, and you can check the requirements from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.


Bunk beds are made from wood or metal, or a combination of the two. Wood has the advantage of being a warm and tactile finish for a bedroom, and it won’t go out of style. Look for bunk beds made from hardwood as it is both sturdy and durable and avoid softwoods and wood substitutes. Metal beds can look sleek and streamlined and are lighter to move around if the room’s layout has to be changed. However, they are not as robust as beds made from wood. Check the frame regularly at joints and welds to ensure it remains firm and be aware that some models of metal bed have been subject to product recall because of upper bunk collapse. Note that the wood portion of wood and metal bunk bed designs may be a trim rather than used structurally and therefore the same considerations will apply.


Standard bunk beds consist of one bed on top of another, distinguishing them from loft beds which have a top bed with perhaps a desk or storage furniture underneath. Typically, the two beds of a bunk bed have same twin mattress size, but other combinations are available such as twin over full (double) and full over full. Think about both the type of bunk bed and the material from which it’s made as a combination. ‘If you have a double bed under a twin, that will automatically be more sturdy,’ says Sarah Kruse. ‘If you have a twin over a twin, then ideally a wood frame, as metal can be less sound. If you do metal of twin over twin or with a twin above and open space below, it should definitely be secured to the wall.’


Buying a mattress for a bunk bed needs the same attention as buying a mattress for any of the beds in your home. Take into account its type and the support it offers. What’s absolutely key is the depth. ‘You need to understand the exact thickness of mattress that will fit for your specific bunk; this means having a 5 inch allowance between the top of the mattress and the top of the guardrail,’ says interior designer Sarah Kruse. ‘Most bunk beds allow for mattresses in the 8 to 9 inch height range, but otherwise you should be able to select whatever kind of mattress fits your sleeping needs.’


While there are some cute designs for younger kids, if you want to invest in bunk beds that will see them through different stages, both the style of the design and its functionality will be decisive. ‘Versatile aesthetics are important, as well as the sturdiness of the frame and actual mattress support (since obviously it will need to support more weight),’ says Sarah Kruse. ‘I would suggest choosing a bed that is a blank canvas (black, white, or wood finish) and that can be easily adapted to changes in the room such as paint, bedding, etc.’

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